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Local Authority Housing Stock Business Plan

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Edwina Hart, Minister for Finance, Local Government and Communities

The National Housing Strategy (Better Homes for People in Wales) stated that we intended to produce Guidance on the preparation of Housing Stock Business Plans, after consultation, with view to their introduction by April 2003.

Business Planning is a key element in ensuring effective long- term management and maintenance of the Council’s housing stock. It will enable authorities to operate in a business like manner within the authority’s wider objectives. It will ensure that each authority has much clearer assessment of investment needs and how they will be met; it will increase transparency of its Housing Revenue Account and be a tool for performance management control and directing future revenue and capital expenditure.

A consultation / working group was established in conjunction with WLGA. Guidance has been developed and was issued to all local authorities in November 2002. 

The Welsh Assembly Government has developed a Business Plan Model and provided three training sessions, in South, Mid and North Wales, to facilitate further information and to ensure that in developing their plans local authorities adopt and apply a consistent approach throughout Wales.

I have also approved financial support, under section 16 of the Housing Act 1985, for training of staff and members of local authorities. Most authorities in Wales have applied for and have been granted funding.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s vision is that all households in Wales have the opportunity to live in good quality homes. The Welsh Housing Quality Standard has been developed to provide a common standard for the physical condition of all housing in Wales. Guidance has been developed specifically to help local authorities to assess their housing stock against the standard.

Local Authorities are required to assess the implications of bringing stock up to the Standard by 2012.  Most of the initial overall assessments on the condition of local authorities stock and the investment needed to achieve the Standard including capital and revenue financial implications have already been submitted. These initial assessments will be refined and incorporated into the Business Plan of each local authority.

There is a need to move forward quickly on the development of a more rigorous and structured planning regime, for investment in local authority stock.

It is hoped that local authorities would have addressed many of the building blocks that underpin the development of a robust business plan, including:

  • Assessment of housing needs;
  • Local housing market;
  • Housing stock information and its relevance to demographic changes;
  • Rental  policies;
  • Views of tenants and residents;
  • Resource projections

Consultation with tenants, leaseholders, staff and key partners should form a fundamental part of the analysis stage of strategy formation. Many available options will involve choices that need to be informed by the views of key stakeholders; also, successful delivery of strategies will require commitment from the same interest groups.

I am expecting the first business plans to be sent to me by April 2003.